Bob Greenblatt Poised to Step Down as NBC Entertainment Chairman (EXCLUSIVE)

Bob Greenblatt is preparing to leave his post as NBC Entertainment chairman after leading the network’s turnaround during the past eight years.

Greenblatt, who renewed his contract with NBC last fall, is in the process of negotiating his exit plan at NBC after making the decision that the time is right for him to make the transition, multiple sources familiar with the situation have told Variety. He’s expected to meet this weekend with NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke to work out an exit plan that would give NBC a long runway for setting a successor. His official departure could be as late as the end of the 2018-19 season in May.

At NBC, Greenblatt has engineered an impressive rebound for the network after out of years in the ratings cellar. NBC has been a roll in the last two years in particular thanks to the buzzy hit “This Is Us.” Under Greenblatt, NBC has finished four of the last five seasons as the top-rated primetime network in the 18-49 demo. NBC also finished the 52-week 2017-18 season as the No. 1 network in nearly every ratings measure, including total viewers — the first time since 2001-02 that NBC has taken the total-viewers crown.

It’s understood that Greenblatt saw the total-viewers victory as a big milestone that was a good bookend for his NBC run.

Greenblatt joined NBC in 2011, just as Comcast completed its acquisition of NBCUniversal and months before the network launched what would quickly become broadcast’s top-rated unscripted series, “The Voice.” In 2016, NBC premiered “This Is Us,” which became the highest rated drama on broadcast. Greenblatt last year drew the creators and cast of comedy “Will & Grace” back to the network for a revival that proved to be a ratings success. The show has already been renewed for 2019-20, ahead of its upcoming 2018-19 premiere. NBC also scored a critical favorite with comedy “The Good Place,” which earned an Emmy nomination for star Ted Danson in his sophomore season.

Greenblatt’s tenure is also highlighted by the revival of the annual live TV musical spectacular, which he championed starting with the sleeper success of “The Sound of Music Live” in December 2013. NBC’s competitors have followed suit with their own productions, particularly Fox which is staging a rendition of “Rent” on Jan. 27. NBC is just coming off five big Emmy wins for its most recent production, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” starring John Legend.

Among the heads of the Big Four broadcast networks, Greenblatt is the longest tenured, with seven years at the helm. A veteran of cable and broadcast, he was recruited from Showtime following a successful seven-year run there where he kickstarted its push into original series programming with dramas such as “Dexter,” “Nurse Jackie” and “Californication.”

Greenblatt has also long been active as a producer of Broadway and other theater, something that he may well pursue again after he leaves NBC. He was part of the team behind the 2014 Tony winning musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” and he produced the Broadway musical rendition of “9 to 5” during his time at Showtime.

Before Showtime, Greenblatt had a production partnership with David Janollari that yielded the Emmy winning HBO drama “Six Feet Under.” Earlier in his career Greenblatt was one the original members of the programming team at Fox Broadcasting, rising to No. 2 in programming.

Upon his arrival in 2011, Greenblatt recruited 20th Century Fox Television exec Jennifer Salke to lead scripted development for NBC. The network went on to find success with dramas such as “The Blacklist” and “Blindspot,” as well as Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire” and its offshoots. Salke left NBC earlier this year to become head of Amazon Studios. That transition is also said to have weighed on Greenblatt’s decision as he and Salke worked closely together for years.

Greenblatt’s departure adds to the turmoil among the Big Four broadcast networks at present with Fox and ABC poised for major shakeups as a result of Disney’s historic acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets. CBS is also been under pressure amid the corporate drama that has enveloped the company and led to the ouster of CBS chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves earlier this month.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content